He attended the University of Chicago, as well as Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. He studied acting further at the Organic Theater in Chicago in 1972-1978. Szarabajka's surname, pronounced [ʂaraˈbajka] in Polish, means "gray fable". In 1982, he had a supporting role in the Costa-Gavras film Missing.
His acting resume is extensive, appearing in numerous television programs including The Equalizer, Profit, The X-Files, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Enterprise, Charmed, Roswell,24, Max Steel, The Inside, and Law & Order. In 1994 he portrayed the quotable "Matthew Stoner" in Babylon 5 episode "Soul Mates". He is known for his role as Mickey Kostmayer in the 1980s show The Equalizer, as well as for his recurring role as vampire hunter Daniel Holtz in the cult series Angel, the spin-off from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He played the lead role in Stephen King's Golden Years. He also appeared in 2008 blockbuster The Dark Knight.
Szarabajka has also contributed his voice to several audio books, notably "Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates" by Tom Robbins, for which he won the 2001 Audie Award for Best Fiction, unabridged, Fear Nothing and Seize the Night by Dean Koontz, several roles in a Grammy nominated audio dramatization of The Maltese Falcon, Rising Sun by Michael Crichton, Nelson Algren's Walk on the Wild Side, and The Mark of Zorro opposite Val Kilmer.
Additionally, he provided the voice for antagonist Dmitri Yuriev in the Xenosaga series and for The Master of Whispers in The game Guild Wars: Nightfall and for Emile Dufraisne in Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent. Most recently, he played the role of Detective Stephens in the Batman Begins sequel The Dark Knight and voiced Dr. Terrence Kyne for the animated sci-fi horror movie Dead Space: Downfall based out of the Dead Space video game. He also voiced a minor character in Condemned 2: Bloodshot named Inferi. He also is the Archangel Azrael in Darksiders: Wrath of War. Recently he played a very small role in Dragon Age: Origins as a nameless dwarf collecting nugs. He plays Harbinger, the main villain of the video game Mass Effect 2, which has developed an internet meme following as a result of several of his quotes. In 2008, he voiced Venom in Spider-Man: Web of Shadows. In 2010 he voiced the Autobot Ironhide in Transformers: War for Cybertron and Mr. Freeze in Young Justice. He also provides the voice for Gilgamesh in the video game, Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy. He also provided the voice for Joshua Graham in Fallout: New Vegas' downloadable content Honest Hearts.
He plays the narrator as Detective Herschel Biggs in the video game LA Noire. Additionally, he also provides voice characterization for characters in Relic Entertainment's Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising and Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II – Retribution as the Chaos Advisor and Captain Apollo Diomedes.